Letter urges investigation of police leaders - East Valley Tribune: News

Letter urges investigation of police leaders

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Posted: Friday, July 16, 2004 10:05 am | Updated: 5:47 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

A group of Scottsdale police employees have asked Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley and state Attorney General Terry Goddard to investigate the police command staff.

The written request, dated Thursday, was signed by "City of Scottsdale Police Employees," who did not identify themselves.

The letter also was sent to members of the City Council and the Tribune.

"City officials have received an anonymous letter and it’s being reviewed at this time," city spokesman Mike Phillips said Thursday. "We won’t have a comment until we’re able to give it a good review."

Spokeswomen for Romley and Goddard said they could not determine whether their offices had received the request.

Police Chief Alan Rodbell could not be reached for comment.

A cover letter accompanying the request states: "This letter is . . . asking for intervention from an outside entity in order to complete an investigation that Scottsdale Police Department command staff have started and failed to complete in a timely, objective manner."

The Scottsdale Police Department started a series of internal investigations in October after a Tribune story about Helen Gandara-Zavala, the top civilian on the force.

The Oct. 26 story stated that before Gandara-Zavala was hired as administrative services director in 1998, she signed a statement admitting to using cocaine and marijuana in amounts that normally disqualify police job applicants. Former Chief Doug Bartosh waived the requirements to hire her.

The story also noted questions involving two police investigations surrounding her husband, Mario Zavala.

In response, Rodbell launched three internal investigations:

• How Gandara-Zavala’s signed statement, which the Tribune published, was released to the public.

• Whether there was misconduct in the Scottsdale police lab in the handling of blood samples of a DUI investigation involving Mario Zavala. Gandara-Zavala oversees the lab. No charges were brought against Zavala.

• Whether anyone inappropriately informed Gandara-Zavala that her husband was under investigation for possibly associating with drug dealers. Again, no charges were brought against Mario Zavala.

The Tribune requested the results of the investigations under the state open records law June 25.

The investigations involving Zavala are complete, Phillips said, but police officials were researching Thursday whether written reports of the findings were ever compiled.

The matter involving the release of Gandara-Zavala’s signed statement is expected to be completed within two weeks, Phillips said.

The letter to Romley and Goddard also requests they investigate alleged violations of employee civil rights, possible tampering or destruction of public records, and the use of law enforcement agencies to investigate administrative matters.

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